Notorious Local Tiger Exhibitor Caught Operating Illegally After Losing License

For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2021

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Grant, Okla. – After citing Choctaw County–based circus exhibitor Adam Burck for crating tigers inside a stiflingly hot, maggot-filled barn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) canceled his exhibitor’s license—but PETA received video footage of Burck illegally exhibiting tigers on Thanksgiving at the Hadi Shrine Circus in Evansville, Indiana, so the group rushed off a complaint to local authorities, who confirmed that Burck’s unlicensed tiger act was removed from subsequent performances.

The incident comes just after PETA obtained damning video footage from a USDA inspection revealing that Burck keeps tigers in crates so small that the animals barely have room to turn around as they pace back and forth out of distress and agitation. The footage shows a yellow liquid covering the floor of a crate holding an elderly, underweight tiger and another tiger drinking dirty liquid off the floor and reacting with disgust. According to the USDA’s accompanying report, Burck neglected to provide the thin, aging tiger with adequate veterinary care and kept tigers inside the stinking, poorly ventilated barn—which hit 92 degrees during the inspector’s visit. The tigers spend most of their lives in these cages and were held in them for over a year when not being used in performances.

“Horrifying videos reveal tigers suffering in stench and slop in Adam Burck’s barn,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler. “The days of using tigers in tawdry shows are over, and PETA is calling on Burck to stop flouting the law and send these animals to reputable sanctuaries where they’d finally have space to stretch out and room to roam.”

The USDA report accompanying the video footage also notes that the barn in which Burck kept the tigers lacked a perimeter fence and posed a “constant, ongoing potential threat” to public safety. Shortly after that inspection, the USDA slapped Burck with an official warning, informing him that future violations could result in additional enforcement actions. Two weeks later, the USDA cited him again for keeping tigers in travel crates most of the time. Now that the agency has canceled his license, Burck can no longer legally exhibit tigers—but they likely remain warehoused on his property.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group estimates that there are fewer than 10 exhibitors routinely displaying big cats in circuses and fairs in the U.S., evidence that the public has lost interest in cruel, outdated acts that exploit wild animals.

For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind